Romantic Suspense – Give Us Your Drama!

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Publishing trends can be funny. What’s “dead” one year could very well be on a must-have list the next, and vice versa. Romantic Suspense is all the rage at the moment—it’s being asked for at conferences, highlighted on third-party retailers, and hailed as the next “big thing,” once again. That’s exciting to us, because the Carina editors have a special kind of love for heart-pounding stories of love mixed with danger, and Romantic Suspense has always been a genre we actively acquire.

We’ve seen incredible success with and reader investment in Marie Force’s New York Times bestselling FATAL series and others, and are eager to expand our already-robust offerings in 2015 and beyond.

Angela James, Editorial Director, has been asking for a great series featuring mercenaries. Anti-heroes and anti-heroines welcome. Strong female protagonists a must! She is looking for something both action-packed, with lots of things blowing up and getting shot (she’s bloodthirsty!), and also sexy. Heroes who are totally into their heroines will be adored. Heroines who can hold their own against alpha dudes and kick some ass will be moved up to the top of her reading queue.

Kerri Buckley, Editor, would like to see a romantic suspense series set in the wilds of Alaska. Think “Northern Exposure” with a strong suspense arc. She’s also looking for romantic suspense with Eastern European anti-heroes. Real Russian bad boys, please. And finally, suburban spies. Kerri would love to see a high-octane romantic suspense series centering on spies gone deep undercover in an American suburb.

Rhonda Helms, Freelance Editor, is actively seeking a New Adult romantic suspense. Angsty, thrilling, with active characters and a real sense of danger. LGBTQ/PoC welcome—show her the diversity!

Deborah Nemeth, Freelance Editor, would love to acquire a military romantic suspense series, featuring intense alpha heroes and men or women in uniform—SEALs, Rangers, SAS, marines, firefighters, pilots, smoke jumpers…

Melissa Johnson, Freelance Editor, would love to edit a romantic suspense standalone or series that has a new adult flare. She’s looking for well-crafted danger and intrigue, and high emotional drama between the main characters.

Mallory Braus, Freelance Editor, is looking for romantic suspense series that feature a ”Band of Brothers” feel. Especially stories that involve a group-a specialized FBI team, a crew of firemen, a police unit, etc. Where the job risks are high, and there’s a solid connection. Also, thanks to a sudden obsession with television shows “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago PD,” she’d love to read a series based around a fire rescue squad or an intelligence unit.

Alissa Davis, Freelance Editor, would like to find a military romantic suspense series—m/m or m/f, historical or contemporary.

Have you been working on something that fits the bill for one of our editors? Submit your story HERE.


Show me something novella

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Sorry, sometimes I can’t help but play with the blog titles. Earlier this week, while participating in an #askeditor chat on Twitter, someone asked if we were looking for/accepting novellas. The answer is emphatically yes and I mentioned that I’d been preparing a call for novellas.

As we plan our 2011 publication schedule, I’ve noted that we have plenty of novels (70k+), which is fantastic but we like to insert novellas into our publication schedule as well, in order to give readers access to stories that don’t involve quite the same time commitment. I’m actually a big fan of novellas myself, because they fit much more easily into my editing schedule than novels do.

So this is our official call for novellas. I did this once before, via Twitter, and we had great success from it. Right now, we’re particularly interested in seeing shorter works from 15k (nothing under that, please) to 40k. Of course we’re still very actively acquiring above 40k, but we’d love to see some novellas along with our longer submissions. We’re not seeking in a particular genre/sub-genre, so please feel free to submit both romance and non-romance, erotica, science fiction, fantasy and any sub genre in between. If you’d like to target a specific editor, you can see what they’re seeking here.

Please keep in mind that we aren’t currently acquiring YA. You can find out more details of our submissions guidelines and FAQs on our website (that’s probably where you’re reading this but just in case… and submissions will be ongoing. This isn’t a limited-time call!

I should also mention that right now, everything submitted prior to October 15th has been assigned to an editor (and shortly, that will be everything submitted prior to this week) so manuscripts submitted now won’t be sitting around long waiting to be seen by an editor!

Any questions can be posted in the comments here of the blog, or on Twitter to @CarinaPress or @AngelaJames (just remember it’s easy for us to miss @ replies there so if we don’t respond, you might comment here instead). And you have full permission to forward the text of this post and use it on any forum or blog you think might be interested. I look forward to seeing your submissions!

How do acquisitions work?

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[You can find a more recent version of this post here.]

Every so often we have someone ask, via interview, at conferences, or during conversation how our acquisitions process works at Carina Press. I’ve often wished I had a handy link that I could just say “go here for all your answers” because it’s not a short answer. So now I’m going to create one and give you some insight into our process, which will also help you get a sense of timeline as well.

To start, all submissions run through our email address. Even when a submission is sent directly to a freelance editor from a returning or referred author, the submission is forwarded to me at that address so we can track it in our system, and have a record of all submissions.

Once a submission comes in, it’s entered into the system. Generally, submissions get assigned to an editor for reading within 2-3 weeks of hitting the inbox.

Submissions are assigned based on a preference basis. This means I keep a spreadsheet (a very thorough spreadsheet) of editor genre preferences. They’ve indicated if  a genre is preferred, something they’ll read or something they don’t want to see. This allows me to match up editors and manuscripts, so no editor is reading a genre they don’t enjoy, and they are often reading genres they love. Additionally, I check in with the editors every few months to see if they want to make updates or changes, or if they’d like to see more or less of a genre. Also, I should mention that editors are paid for each step of the process, so we’re not asking for free labor from our freelancers and they have incentive to meet the deadlines (and incentive to read, read, read your submissions. It’s a win all around!)

When editors indicate they’re ready to read submissions, I send them out in batches of ten. Editors then have a week to respond with a preliminary report (of a few sentences to a paragraph for each book) based on a read of no more than 3 chapters (and often much less, as they get good at weeding through submissions). Do they recommend rejection, a full read or a look by another editor. Sometimes it’s a genre they enjoy, but a particular book is not for them but seems to have potential. For instance, we had a recent submission of dark urban fantasy that the original editor found a little too violent, but recognized as good writing, so she suggested a second editor have a look. That ended in an acquisition!

Once the editors have returned their prelim reports, they have two weeks to return reports on any manuscripts kept for full reads. Based on those reads, they recommend either acquisition, rejection or revise and resubmit (we’ll talk about revise and resubmits in a later post).

Manuscripts recommended for rejection get filed by me for response, unless the editor has worked with the author in the past, then they may send the response. Those recommended for R&R will get responses from the editor. And those recommended for acquisition get moved to a special folder and put on the agenda for our weekly acquisitions team meeting.

At the weekly meeting, I present the editor’s recommendation report and an acquisitions team member (comprised of people from marketing, production, promotion, sales, community and editorial) volunteers to read it. From that time, the team member reports within 2 weeks at a team meeting what their recommendation is. If the team member didn’t like it, it’s given to a second team member to read. Two people must say yes (the editor being one and a team member being the second) before a manuscript is acquired, but a manuscript isn’t rejected or sent for R&R without at least two acquisitions team members looking at it first, to give it a fair chance.

If you’re counting along at home, this means that once the manuscript reaches the acquisitions team, it can take up to 4-5 weeks (depending on when the report is received, especially if it’s received the day after the weekly meeting) for it to go through this step of the process. Acquisitions team members also report on the manuscript, and offer feedback.

After we’ve agreed to make an acquisition, I assign it to my list of calls/emails to make. I generally make these every 2 weeks, unless there’s an urgent deadline on a manuscript. If an author is in the US or Canada, I make the offer call. If an author is outside US/Canada, I send an offer email. And from there, a new process begins!

So, if you’ve been counting along, you can see how we come to need 12-16 weeks for some submissions. The process can be prolonged in several places: if the original editor recommends it be seen by a second editor, if the acquisition team needs more time or a second reader, if anyone in the process (the editor or me) needs more time in the process. The reports I’ve mentioned along the way, those are what I use to evaluate and send rejection letters. Sometimes the editor has included critical advice I think it will benefit the author to see. Sometimes the reports’ language is meant for my eyes only. We’ve discussed rejections in detail here and here.

And now you know the secret, behind-the-scenes acquisition/submissions process. Did it answer questions or raise more?

Ask the editor: what does an editor do?

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Today on Twitter I mentioned that Carina Press would be getting three new freelance developmental editors (pause for a quick wheeee! here). In response, the question was asked of me, “what do developmental editors do?”. I think this is a good question so I thought we could chat about edits and editors today.

First, different companies have different editors titles. I’ve heard developmental and content editor, as well as just “editor”. Then copy editor or final line editor. I’m going to use the term editor here to encompass the developmental or content editor. Second, my overview of who the editor is and what they do is overly simplified and generic for the purpose of this blog. Most editors have immense job descriptions with a small ton of duties, and it varies house by house. This is just meant to be an overview for clarification. Not exactly how it’s done anywhere, including Carina.

Generally, when someone refers to their editor, they’re referring to the person who (theoretically) recommended their book for acquisition. Theoretically because sometimes books get acquired and then that editor leaves and it gets passed to another editor. Anyway. At more traditional publishers, the editor is often the person who also negotiates the contract with the agent/author. At Carina Press, I’m actually that person. I tell people that the beauty of freelance editors is that they are free to concentrate on editing!

This editor will be the person who walks the book through the publication process of getting cover art, cover copy and so importantly, of doing the actual editing. They’re generally the main point of contact for the author at the company, communicating deadlines, release dates, etc., and they’re the bossy bit of goods who will be asking the author to (sometimes) kill their darlings or otherwise point out plot holes, continuity errors, character flaws (in the characters of the book, not in the author, one hopes) and all of the other large and smaller editorial things that go into making a book ready for the readers. Some editors are quite good at the line editing portion of editing, and will also point out writing tics, ways to improve and polish writing, and will correct grammar and punctuation as they go. Some editors concentrate mainly on the large-picture edits.

The editor is also the person who determines when the book is ready for the copy editor. The copy editor is that glorious being who is in charge of the minute details of the book. Grammar, punctuation, incorrect word usage, tense/verb agreement, minor line editing, historical accuracy (or inaccuracy, as the case may be) and more. They are the “clean-up” crew and help put the final spit and polish on the book. Copy editors aren’t asked to or expected to do any large revisions or rewrites of sentences/passages. But if the copy editor sees an issue, they point it out for the author/editor’s attention. I usually think of the copy editor as the first reader, after edits.

After the copy editor marks the manuscript all up with their virtual red ink (since more and more editors are going to electronic), and the author has addressed them as needed, the editor is the person who finalizes the manuscript and sends it to production to be turned into a book for us, the readers!

That’s it in a very generic and rather broad nutshell. The secret lives of editors and copy editors. Any questions?

Time for another self-editing workshop

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I took a few months off from running the Before You Hit Send workshop but is hosting it for all authors starting August 2. This is a good post-RWA workshop to take before you send your manuscript off to all those editors and agents you met!

From the website:

Instructor: Angela James. Join Angela James for a 2 week workshop as she shares some of the common pitfalls she’s seen in submissions and contest entries. She’ll give you ideas, tips and tricks for polishing and self-editing your manuscript. Discuss things such as dialogue tags, whether all forms of “to be” really evil and just what you’re doing to your life expectancy with your use of that exclamation point. The course will guide you from the basics of self-editing and grammar in a clear, conversational manner with examples, to more advanced topics such as show versus tell and passive voice. Through it all, she’ll be available for clarification and questions in order to help you on your way to a cleaned-up manuscript and understanding the basics of editing your manuscript.

What do participants who’ve taken the workshop have to say?
“I’ve been writing for over 15 years and published 8 novels. Angela’s online class on self-editing was packed with information and suggestions designed to improve your writing whether you’re a beginning or an advanced author.” Donna MacQuigg

“Taking the self editing course was like pulling the blinders off. I was given the tools to see the common mistakes in my first drafts. I highly recommend this course to any writer who wants to make their writing tighter and more polished.” Amy Ruttan

“Angela’s Self-Editing Workshop gave me many tools and tricks to apply immediately and things to consider while writing. The information presented is clear, concrete, and practical.I can’t recommend it strongly enough to anyone who want to strengthen and polish his or her writing.” Sara Nash

WHEN: Aug 2 – Aug 16
COST: $10 for Premium Members
$15 for Basic & NON-Members
REGISTRATION: Click here to Register for $15 (Non-Savvy Member Rate.)

JOIN TODAY to take this workshop for only $10! If you are a current Premium member of Savvy Authors, please log into the website before registering for this workshop.

This is me-just a little bit late

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The past few months have been a bit of a period of changing things around here on the blog, as we had the Carina Countdown, and then we had a month of launch posts. So starting in July, I created a new blogging schedule and recruited some help (in the form of a post from a different acquisitions team member every week). Tuesdays and Wednesdays are dedicated to the authors with releases that week. But Fridays, I’m supposed to blog on Fridays.


I didn’t remember I was supposed to post on Friday until yesterday afternoon. At which point, I figured I might as well save it for today, because what we’d had planned for Mondays hasn’t worked out so well to date either. Running a team blog is a little bit challenging. Running a team blog when even the person running it has memory lapses…even more challenging!

But it’s been awhile since I’ve done any kind of update post, so now seems a good time.

In a very behind-the-scenes update, I’ll tell you that I’m once again getting ready to bring on more new freelance content editors. But unfortunately, this isn’t a job opening call, so don’t send me your resume, okay? I have about five freelancers I’ve been corresponding with over the past few months, while I got to a better place to bring more on (in other words: past launch and the possible loss of my sanity). All of them are experienced editors who somehow came recommended to me by various sources, and they have a wide variety of editorial interests (from fantasy and science fiction to mystery and thrillers). Right now, I’m in the process of updating all of the original materials I had put together for our freelance crew, reviewing processes and making sure that things are clear and understandable, now that I’ve been working with the original crew of freelancers for over six months (my, how time flies!) Once I’ve got everything updated, I’ll be talking with the prospective freelancers more closely to see if their interests and talents mesh with what Carina is looking for, and if we bring any of them onboard, I’ll be sure to introduce them here on the blog so you can continue to get a picture of the Carina freelance editors and their likes/dislikes and experience.

Also always of interest to the authors out there is a submissions update. I don’t actually have one for you right now, so hopefully I can post one this Friday as working on submissions is a major item on my to-do list this week.

In other news, the Carina team is getting geared up for RWA Nationals in Orlando at the end of the month. On my schedule is a workshop on Friday where I’ll be speaking with author Jaci Burton about digital publishing, a Carina Press cocktail party Friday afternoon and the ESPAN inaugural tea where I’m flattered to be the guest speaker. And on Saturday, the Carina Press spotlight. More information on all of those to come in a separate post.

We’ve been acquiring a good number of books–including non-romance books–that we’re very excited about and I’ll have to start posting about those. Maybe on Mondays :P Through November, we’ll continue to release 1-2 books a week. In December, we’re going to be releasing a number of holiday-themed novellas. Then, starting in January, we’ll be increasing releases to 2-3 books/week. We’ve gotten a lot of really excellent submissions.

If you’re interested in sneak peeks of upcoming cover art, I post 2-3 new covers on our Facebook account every Thursday.

Now that we’ve launched, it seems like what’s happening behind-the-scenes should probably have slowed down, but there’s still a lot going on. We’re always thinking and planning the next thing, and looking at what’s working and what’s not.

So tell me, is there anything behind-the-scenes that you’ve been wondering about?

Care for a Drink?

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When I became a full-time freelance editor 2 years ago, I was more excited than I was nervous. Picking my own projects, working in my pajamas, setting my own hours—I was living the dream, right? At the time, I was confident I’d never look back, and for the most part, I didn’t. In fact, there was only one thing I missed about working in an office.

It wasn’t having to resist the temptation of baked goods in the kitchen every week (every office has at least one person whose goal it is to ruin your waistline). It certainly wasn’t the long commute via public transportation whose reliability has only been matched by Twitter’s during the World Cup. It wasn’t even having a tech department only a phone call away, though I almost caved when Microsoft Word started acting up.

No, what I missed about the daily grind was chatting over lunch with my coworkers and being able to call another editor over to help me figure out what was awkward about a sentence. I missed the watercooler discussions that you probably take for granted when you go into the office every day.

Well, when I started working with the Carina editorial freelancers last winter, my prayers were answered. The six months between when I started and the June launch were fast and furious with edits and covers and blurbs—oh my! But it was also such a relief. Because while a tremendous amount of work got done in a short amount of time (my hat’s off to the rest of the Carina staff for pulling it off so effortlessly), there was also a lot of fun had by all. And I definitely got my wish in terms of the watercooler discussions.

Between monthly editorial calls, the editors’ discussion group, and social networking, I’ve chatted with my editorial peers and picked their brains about everything from television to exercise to, of course, books. It’s easy to go word-blind when you read a story three times (or more), as is common during edits, but when I’m having a hard time figuring if a sentence is clear or if a passage is conveying what it’s intended to, I just shoot an e-mail to my fellow freelancers, and voilà, three or four informed opinions in the same amount of time it would have taken me to bend the Chicago Manual of Style’s rules to fit my purpose. When I’m sad about an R&R not coming back, I need only send a message before I have someone to commiserate with. And when I’m procrastinating, the CP staff’s Twitter feeds can always be counted on for a book review that adds to my TBR pile or an article that makes me want a Nook even though I already have a Kobo and a Sony.

And on the flip side, my authors and I have had some diverse and off-the wall conversations as well, and not just book edits and brainstorming projects. While one author and I had an involved discussion on the differences between urban fantasy and paranormal romance, I’d be e-mailing another about whether there’s a moral obligation for heroines in contemporary romances to use protection. Nothing is off-limits, and I love having such a great balance between work and play.

These days, my virtual office watercooler is busier than ever, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So, feel free to join the discussion by shooting @kaywhyem a message on Twitter or leaving a comment on this post. Whether you want to talk favorite genres (GLBT and medical romance? Yes, please), television (Bones and Top Chef), or punctuation (I’m a fan of the series comma), I’m always at the watercooler and ready for a drink.

“Where no great story goes untold” Yes, really…

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Wait. It’s June already? Back when I started editing for Carina, in December 2009, the 2010 June launch seemed so far away. We had months after all, right? (At this point, I can practically see the tireless, hardworking Carina staff recoiling.)

Oh, my. Time does fly when you’re having fun—or are on a tight deadline.

My background is in traditional print publishing, having spent three years in editorial at a major NYC house followed by almost four years in acquisitions for commercial book clubs. Working for Carina Press marks my first foray into digital-first publishing and, let me tell you, I’m impressed by the range of opportunity it allows for authors and readers alike. One of the hardest things for an editor to say about a book is “I love it, but… (rock stars don’t sell, no one is buying Vikings right now, it crosses too many genres, fill in the blank). Because, yes, the traditional model and marketplace sometimes do impose these kinds of restrictions. Yet, a lesson I learned from my experience selling direct to consumers at the clubs is that there’s a buyer for every book. Cue the Field of Dreams voiceover: If you offer it, they will come…

As an editor, I love Carina’s “no great story goes untold” promise because I feel as if I’ve been let loose. Currently my authors have written such different projects as a Victorian historical, fun women’s fiction, romantic suspense with paranormal elements, an erotic shifter menage, first-person romantic suspense, and a novella I can only describe as having a traditional Regency sensibility with a threesome twist. And that’s just my list. The editorial staff has a wide range of interests and it’s reflected in the books they’re drawn to. I’m constantly surprised by the diversity of stories than come into our submissions inbox and out of our acquisitions meetings. As a reader, I’ve already started a greedy little (or, rather long) list of Carina books I want. As both, I’m hoping the sheer enthusiasm behind this new venture is contagious, and I’m excited to see where Carina books and authors will take us next. Here’s to variety as the next big trend in genre publishing.

You can follow Gina on Twitter

Meet me in Birmingham

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Come to Southern Magic’s June 26 meeting at the Homewood Publc Library to hear Angela James, Executive Editor of Carina Press, talk about e-publishing.

It doesn’t matter if you’re published or not, or if you ever plan to be e-published, you need to listen to what she has to say. This is the future and you need to be informed and aware of what’s happening around you.


When: June 26, 2010, from 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Where: Round Auditorium at the Homewood Public Library, Birmingham, Alabama

Southern Magic will provide a dessert table and coffee.

Registration is mandatory by contacting Callie James at Otherwise, we cannot guarantee you a seat.

Attendance is free for Southern Magic members, $5 for other RWA chapter members, and $10 for the public. Pay at the door.

PROGRAM: Angela James discusses the ins and outs of e-publishing, including what to expect from an epublisher, how to distinguish between unfunded or under-funded epubs, the real sales figures, what constitutes good distribution, covers, promotion, and more. We will have Q&A time available throughout the program.

More about Angela James:
Executive editor of Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital-first press, and veteran of the digital publishing industry, Angela James is a well-known advocate for digital publishing. James has enjoyed a long and varied publishing career that has included ownership of an independent editorial services business, work as a copy editor for electronic book and small press publisher, Ellora’s Cave, and executive editor for Samhain Publishing. James frequently travels to regional, national and international writing conferences to meet with authors and readers, and present workshops on digital publishing for both authors and readers of all genres of fiction.

Carina Press is a new digital-first publisher that combines editorial and marketing expertise with the freedom of digital publishing. With a long history of digital marketing and editorial experience, the Carina Press team is committed to bringing readers fresh voices and new, unique editorial.

Our philosophy is: no great story should go untold!

Carina Press will publish a broad range of fiction with an emphasis on romance and its subgenres. We will also acquire voices in mystery, suspense and thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, erotica, gay/lesbian, and more!

Southern Magic is the Birmingham, Alabama, chapter of the Romance Writers of America.
Meetings held at Homewood Public Library
1721 Oxmoor Road, Homewood, AL 35209

Breaking the Mold

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It’s been an intense and wonderful half year getting ready for launch. I love working with the CP team. I’m thrilled with the quality of our book covers and the attention to detail that goes into every aspect of the process. But what I like best are our great stories, and the rich variety of genres, tone and content.

I joined Angie James’s editorial staff in late 2009. I’d worked for Angie before, so I went into this venture with a good idea of the high standards she’d set and the type of rigorous editing processes she’d require. What I wasn’t prepared for was the avalanche of submissions Carina Press would receive. For months it felt as though I did nothing but read ms submissions and prepare reader reports.

I love having the freedom to acquire in any genre and, apparently, so do authors. Carina Press is looking for good stories for adult readers, period. Any genre of commercial fiction, genre mix, heat level or length, from short story to epic novel. We’re not acquiring only the hottest-selling genres, and we’re not boxing our authors into predictable storylines or structures. This freedom has attracted a wide variety of talented authors to send us their mss from the day we opened for submissions.

The backgrounds of the authors we’ve contracted run the gamut. Some have successful print careers but wrote a book of their heart which couldn’t find a home elsewhere. Megan Hart’s Exit Light is paranormal women’s fiction, not romance. It isn’t like any other story I’ve read before, but I love the heroine of this powerful, inventive, emotional story. Carrie Lofty’s historical romance Song of Seduction is set during the Napoleonic Wars—the same time period as Regency England, but in Salzburg, not London. And the hero is a Dutch composer… If you read this novel, you won’t find familiar Almack’s scenes, but instead you’ll get a unique romance filled with music and passion. Reviewers love it and we trust that our readers will too.

It’s been a delight to work with such experienced, professional authors. At the other end of the spectrum has been the fun of working with shiny-new debut authors such as Ginny Glass and Jenny Schwartz. Their enthusiasm alone has made the long hours leading up to launch worth it. Jenny’s paranormal romance about a djinni, The Price of Freedom, breaks the “rules” in another way by opening in the viewpoint of a supporting character. Ginny’s erotic story Coin Operated is BDSM-themed but you won’t find a club scene, leather whip or handcuff inside.

Even when writing in more popular genres, Carina’s authors put a twist on them. In Dee Tenorio’s super-sexy Tempting the Enemy, the werewolves are losing a battle against the combined might of humans and psychic mercenaries. The shifter in Inez Kelley’s lush fantasy romance Salome at Sunrise is a hawk. Bonnie Dee re-imagines Tarzan as gay in her steamy m/m historical Jungle Heat. Clare London’s passionate m/m mystery Blinded by Our Eyes (coming in July) isn’t structured like a traditional whodunit, focusing instead on the psychological aspects of love and murder. The PI hero of Shirley Wells’s clever mystery Presumed Dead (July) is a terrible husband and a chauvinist, but I’ve never rooted harder for a hero.

Have a story that breaks the mold? Submit it to Carina Press. Like reading something beyond the norm? Browse our store…

You can follow Deborah on Twitter